Clark's “welcome to college football” moment was a gift he drank in during reflections on his first college semester.
“I'll never forget it,” Clark said. “It was my first play. I was going against the ones … I go to block down and get reamed in the side. I'm like, 'oh alright. I really have to work on my steps and hand placement now.'
Clark got his revenge as he gained comfort in spring practice, but has a long way to go before he discusses freshman playing time. New Jersey's No. 1 player in the 2017 class enrolled early to compete. His first battle is against himself on a pilgrimage of body transformation.
“I gained 20 pounds this spring, got up to 280,” Clark said. “I came in light, 260 from wrestling, so I had to gain some pounds. What really helped me was coach (Kenny) Parker. He was staying on me making sure I would gain a pound every day. If I weigh in 274, I would have to weigh in 275 the next day. Just keep getting better and maintaining.”
A proper 290 to 300 pounds is Clark's target weight for the season, he said. A high-school right tackle, Clark focused on the same position in spring camp but he is open to any role on the line.
“I knew it was going to be hard coming in,” Clark said. “I just kept my goal on my mind and that was to make it through camp and show them that I have what it takes to be a college player. I'm not just a high school player with four stars and the hype from the media. I really want to show who I am out there on the field.”
Brother Jamaal Beaty and Clark committed to Rutgers one year ago with early enrollment as their goal. A debut opportunity in front of Rutgers fans at High Point Solutions Stadium was “a perfect moment” to end their first academic semester.
“It was really an honor,” Clark said. “Walking down there, I had chills walking into that stadium. I remembered the last time I was in that stadium, I played on that field in high school in my state game. We didn't win but it was just that feeling. I had that same feeling playing in it (for the spring game).”